New car review Nissan Leaf (2013on) Sunday Times Driving

27 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи New car review Nissan Leaf (2013on) Sunday Times Driving отключены
NISSAN Leaf – Electric Car Acenta 80kW Auto

New car review: Nissan Leaf (2013-on)

Good to drive and undeniably clean but too quirky, while limited electric range restricts usefulness

£20,990 — £25,490 (after £5,000 government plug-in car grant)

— Plasticky interior

— Not the prettiest car

— Unpredictable range

What is it?

The Nissan Leaf is the electric car with a touch of “wae’aye man”, since this new, second-generation model is now built in Sunderland.  In addition to its Tyneside heritage, the revised model enjoys an enhanced range (a claimed 124 miles compared with the original version’s 109 miles), a fast 6.6kW optional charger and a larger boot. Priced from £20,990 (after the plug-in grant) it competes with pure-electric cars including the prettier, cheaper but much smaller Renault Zoe (from £13,995 after plug-in grant deduction), the Renault Fluence (from £17,845 after grant), the BMW i3 (from £25,680 after grant) when it arrives later this year, and the VW eGolf, due next year.

Meanwhile, though not a pure electric car, the similarly-sized Vauxhall Ampera (starting at £28,750 after grant deduction), which features a small, range-extending, 1.4-litre petrol-driven generator to provide additional electricity, is nevertheless a viable alternative. And in the hybrid petrol/electric corner is the Toyota Prius, starting at £21,845.

There are now three trim levels with the Nissan Leaf: Visia, Acenta and Tekna. The Visia’s steel wheels and dial-type, auto air-conditioning say much about the model’s entry-level aspirations. For an extra £2,500, Acenta brings welcome extras including Nissan’s useful CarWings telematics and sat nav systems. In addition, it has digital air conditioning, a rapid-charge port and alloy wheels.

The Tekna’s £2,000 premium adds a BOSE sound system, and heated leather seats and steering wheel.

You can buy a Leaf outright with its battery or lease both items separately from £119 per month for the car and £70pm for the battery, both over three years, driving 7,500 miles per year. There’s a £4,083 deposit to pay. What you won’t have to pay, however, is car tax, the London congestion charge, parking at most public charging points and, if you’re a company driver, benefit-in-kind tax.

The drive

An electric motor produces its maximum torque from the start. You can feel it in the way the pressure you apply to the Leaf’s accelerator pedal produces a perfectly matched response from the motor. There’s no hesitancy and no lag. Underway, the Leaf pulls strongly enough but select “B” via the transmission knob and considerably more power is made available for acceleration.

In normal running, regenerative braking, when you lift off the accelerator, is strong, capturing energy and feeding it back to the battery but in B mode, this effect is reduced for a smoother ride.

The Leaf’s brakes are a little soft initially but they build pressure strongly. The suspension soaks up most urban dents and with assistance from the car’s hefty 1,567kg kerb weight does a fine job of flattening out A-road undulations and dips. Fast cornering shows up the car’s slightly woolly steering but it’s still entertaining.

In fact, for a car with such a limited range, the Leaf is frustratingly good to drive.

NISSAN Leaf – Electric Car Acenta 80kW Auto

The Leaf offers many ways to monitor how efficiently you’re driving while, on the main screen, is an energy consumption display (for example, switch the heating off and you can see the range counter gain miles). As the range counter is calculated on very recent driving conditions, it’s a little difficult to predict actual range on a longer run.

For example, one tester who embarked on his 43-mile drive from work to home with 80 miles range displayed, arrived at his destination with 27 miles remaining. He recharged the car overnight on the mains (at a cost in electricity of around £2.50) and with the range restored to 80 miles retraced his steps. This time he arrived at work with 40 miles range left. What’s more, he had driven a little less tentatively than the night before, turned up the heating and switched on the heated seats, just to see how fast they’d drain the system.

With experience, though, such idiosyncracies needn’t be a serious problem and at least the three-pin charging solution means the car can be easily topped up, though you should expect to see only a few additional miles of range for a half hour charge on a standard domestic socket. A full charge takes roughly 10 hours, meaning the car should have a full battery after being plugged in overnight.

The cabin

Just like its exterior, the Leaf’s interior shouts, “I’m different”. A large black control unit, looking much like a computer tablet, dominates an otherwise hard, plasticky fascia. It features ventilation controls and a soft-touch display incorporating sat nav, Nissan CarWings (which permits remote control of, among other things, the Leaf’s charging, and heating and ventilation systems via a phone or computer) and energy consumption data.

The dashboard is modular in layout with related functions all neatly grouped, but it all looks a bit Buck Rogers.  In addition to the central control unit, there’s a split-level display ahead of the driver; the top portion above the steering wheel giving essential information such as speed and driving efficiency, the lower, larger portion visible through the steering wheel  providing further energy data including real-time power consumption and remaining range. For energy obsessives, the Leaf must be heaven, but for the driver who simply wants to go from A to B, all these ways of accessing the same, detailed information can be a tad distracting, and unnerving.

The needlessly small transmission knob is another example of the Leaf’s self-conscious styling. It’s quite fiddly at first, requiring only small movements to engage the various modes. A ham-fisted driver could easily mis-select.

It took one tester some time to realise that to select neutral, you push the knob to the right as indicated but, crucially, hold it there.

Otherwise, the cabin is competent and practical ‒ plenty of headroom and legroom  in the rear, and comfortable seats. The boot is a little narrow but split fold seats ensure it is at least flexible.

The one to buy

NISSAN Leaf – Electric Car Acenta 80kW Auto
NISSAN Leaf – Electric Car Acenta 80kW Auto
NISSAN Leaf – Electric Car Acenta 80kW Auto
NISSAN Leaf – Electric Car Acenta 80kW Auto
NISSAN Leaf – Electric Car Acenta 80kW Auto
NISSAN Leaf – Electric Car Acenta 80kW Auto

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